Archive for the mistake Category

M.O.M. Moments

May 8, 2013

On the way to work, this morning, I got a phone call. On the other end was one of my kiddos.
They said, “Mom, I forgot something.”
I asked, “What did you forget?”
Kiddo-”I forgot something at home.”
I replied, “Ok. What did you forget?”
Kiddo (whispering into the phone)-”I forgot my underwear.”

Thank you to beautiful people who are willing to go into my house, rummage through my dryer, find the underwear, text me a pic to make sure it’s the CORRECT underwear and then deliver it to the school in a bag, under the guise of it being “lunch”.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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An Open Letter to the Tooth Fairy

August 29, 2012

This certainly  is not the first time I’ve discussed the Tooth Fairy. Over the many years of Lang kids losing teeth, there’s been plenty of times to talk about the Tooth Fairy’s services. But this is the first time I’ve written directly to her. I’m sincerely grateful for her flexibility and willingness to accommodate our specific needs.

Dear Tooth Fairy

Thank you for making occasional midday trips, when you were overbooked the night before. It is truly appreciated. I know Max will be SO happy that you didn’t forget him. As a M.O.M., I know you NEVER ACTUALLY forget to visit a child who has lost a tooth, but sometimes children question that fact.

So again, I thank you for your daytime, Kids-are-at-school visit. You are Good Stuff!

Sincerely,
M.O.M.

Doing the Dance of the Children…One Tooth At A Time~

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It’s Not Like He Didn’t Warn Me

August 23, 2012

It’s Day 3 of Back to School and at exactly 5:08 Lex showed up in the kitchen and went to the garbage can. I told him to go back to bed. He didn’t move. I asked him what he was doing. He didn’t move. Then…throw up.

I can’t say I didn’t have warning. 11 1/2 hours ago, when we were all at the dinner table and I was doing my motherly duty of making sure the kids eat a variety of foods and finish the minuscule portion of whatever food they’re saying they hate, he warned me. At least 3 times he said that if he ate it, he’d throw up. And at least 3 times, I assured him that he was overreacting and that he needed to eat it. He did, and here we are. I guess it’s no school for Salmon Boy.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had to learn the hard way. About 20 years ago, Kateri sat at the dining table and cried over minestrone soup. I said pretty much the same things to her that I said to Lex last night. And sure enough, she ate it and sure enough, we had minestrone soup all over the floor afterward. Guess what I’ve NEVER again served in my house.

Well, I know that I won’t stop serving salmon, but I will stop insisting that Lex eat it. He did his job, he tried it. He was also kind enough to warn me of the outcome. Either he’s a visionary or he’s stubborn enough to make sure he was going to be right. Either way, no more salmon for Lex.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Three! Three Times in ONE Week That I’ve Lost my Blog Content

September 2, 2011

After writing a witty (if I do say so myself) post about this afternoon and evening’s goings on, my STUPID, I-can’t-yet-afford-a-real-internet-connection, connection failed me…for the 3rd time this week! Grrrr…

Yes, I need to start saving things as I write them (hold on, I need to save this…) and look into my internet options, but COME ON!

~sigh~

So there you go. That’s what I’ve got for tonight. Tomorrow I’ll try again. This evening really was worth hearing about. Let’s talk soon.

Doing the Dance of the Children and Trying to Write About it~

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Running Against the Clock With Time to Spare~

August 23, 2011

In my life-long quest to never be late, I am often accused of being anxious about time. This would be true!

When I was growing up, we were late to EVERYTHING. My mom did not and does not think schedules are important and I often heard her say things to the effect of, “I have 9 children…”. Even before I had 9 children of my own, I was determined to be on time or early to everything. I’ve done a fairly good job of making that happen, but in the process, I’ve made my kids hate me in the mornings. I am always budgeting the minutes in each day and dolling them out in a miserly fashion. One of my children has picked up this trait and he watches time to the very minute. I appreciate this!

This morning was the first day of me getting all the kids to all their schools. Until now, the girls have had a morning carpool. They will continue to get rides 2 days a week, but today was all me. Last night I let all the kids know that we needed to leave at 7 on the dot. This morning I woke each of them to, “Good morning. it’s time to get up and get going. We need to leave right at 7.” I probably reminded them of the 7:00 leaving time another 3 times before 7:00 actually got here. Overkill? Yeah, probably, but it’s what I do. So, 7 rolls around, Gabi doesn’t have her shoes on, Max is playing with Legos and Lex is building a marble track. My heart started racing, my tone completely changed and I started hustling everyone through what they still needed to do. We were in the van at 7:06. Completely unacceptable by my OCD standards. I gave them the speech about the importance of being on time and that I gave them ample notice of the morning’s schedule. We drove over to the high school, dropped the girls where they asked and drove away. I looked at the clock-7:14. I started thinking, “Wow! That didn’t take long at all!” (my girls used to go to school 15 miles away from our house and I’d have to drive them to school and then get the other kids to school and myself to work by 8am. I tell you this to give you a lil insight into where my mind was). Then I started driving toward Max’s school. I knew that there were 15 minutes before the earliest time he could be dropped off. I knew it wasn’t going to take me 15 minutes to get there. Hmmm…. So we drove to the school and toured the neighborhood. I announced that we had 10 minutes before Max could be dropped off. Lex piped up, “Mom, if we have 10 minutes then you got mad about nothing this morning”. ~Sigh~ Leave it to the 5 yr old to hand you a bag full of truth. I said, “Yes, I’m sorry. I didn’t know we’d have so much time. I’m sorry I got upset. You all did fine”. Lex replied, “It’s ok. It was just nothing”. I dropped Max off, drove over to the other school, parked, tied Gabi’s shoes, walked Gabi to class, met a mom who’s daughter is in Gabi’s class, walked Lex to class, kissed him goodbye and drove away. All with time to spare.

Live and learn!

Doing the Dance of the Children and Watching the Clock~

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Give Me an “Edit” Button and I’ll Screw Up All Your Hard Work

March 9, 2011

This evening I sat with my webmaster for 2 hours, trying to learn some new things and trying to get my latest recipe video up on the site. After a few glitches and lots of hard work (on his part), I was told what I could do to change things up the way I wanted. He left and I pondered the things I learned (or tried to learn).

After running a couple errands for my kiddos, I got home, changed into some comfy clothes and came to my computer to “Get it Done”. Whoo Hoo! I was SO excited! Yeah…until I actually made the changes and then realized that I had suddenly made my video disappear. All I wanted to do was add a title!

There are SO many things I know and understand and then there’s all the techno stuff that just has no place in my brain. I try! I listen. I hear. But I just don’t understand! None of the code-talk makes sense to me. And because it doesn’t make sense, I can’t make my brain walk through a logical path of how to make it all work. Ultimately, there are things I’ve learned-how to record a podcast, how to edit the podcast and use a specific program to make it show up where I want it (kind of). I can write a blog post like nobody’s business! I can even add pictures…uploaded from all sorts of places…but there is simply so much I can’t do!

So after a ton of work and time, I seem to have undone what I was trying to enhance.

~sigh~

This is where I just need to say Thank You to the people who make the things happen that I can not.

I sure hope that email I sent gets read and that my video magically (or so it seems to me) shows up!

Off to bed with this techno-challenged M.O.M. I wonder if I’ll dream of html code. And I wonder how “easy” it is to click *magic* keys and make it all reappear.

Doing the Dance of the Children and Being Thankful For Those That Play the Music~

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My Mess

December 22, 2010

Who needs a list? Never mind that one of my BIGGEST pieces of advice to moms is to ALWAYS make a list! I thought I could sit down with my stack of Christmas cards, put the card into each envelope, stamp them, write names and my return address on them and I’d do just fine, thank you very much, without taking the time to write a list.

Wrong!

As I got the names on each envelope, I started addressing them, leaving the hard-to-find addresses for later. As I would finish each night, I’d put them in the mail. 2 key things have gone wrong;

1) I’m unsure who I’ve sent cards to. Yes, I have an idea, but I’m not CERTAIN!

2) I wrote out the names and my return address in a pretty, gold gel pen-that has now run out! It’s not like I can just run over to Michael’s and get another because it was part of a 40pk. So, from here on out, anyone receiving a card will have their name and my address written in gold and their addresses written in green.

Guess I should’ve taken my own advice!

So, excuse me for odd envelopes and if you happen to receive NO card or TWO cards! M.O.M. is Doing the Dance and didn’t pay attention to the steps~

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Catching up with M.O.M. & the Lang Clan

August 16, 2010

My camera was MIA all weekend. I missed taking pics of Kateri leaving to go back to school and snapping pics of the 3 different St. Greg’s boys that we’ve encountered since Friday. We had 2 boys overnight on Friday and one is staying until Wednesday and we met up with another at church on Sunday. I can’t believe that they are all visiting while JJ is away!

But I found the camera again and decided to snap a pic of the project I was working on. Gabi brought home this “Beautiful Butterfly” a few days ago and promptly dropped it on the ground, while trying to show it to one of her sisters. I scooped up the pieces and told her I’d buy some Super Glue and get it put back together. I should’ve known better! I’m classically clumsy-it’s just a fact! And why I thought I could take on anything that had to do with broken glass AND a super-strength glue, I simply don’t know. After successfully gluing the first piece of the wing on, I was feeling pretty confident. Then I cut the tip of my finger on a sharp piece, dripped the glue all over my hand and the other pieces, effectively glueing them (let me rephrase-SUPER GLUING) them to the bowl and having to throw the entire thing away, bowl and all. Of course I hid it all under other trash and had it taken out. Not sure what my explanation is going to be.

How this house has stayed intact and these kiddos have thrived under my butter-fingered guidance, I’ll never know.

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~sigh~

So…it’s the week before my high schoolers go back to school. This means sports tryouts. Arianna is trying out for tennis and volleyball. Her first passion is volleyball, but she wants a back-up plan to keep her moving. I give her a TON of credit! She hasn’t played tennis since 4th grade! I LOVE her drive and self-confidence. I wish I would have had it at her age. She tries new things all the time, gives them her all and is largely successful! I’m so proud of her!

My lil kiddos head back to school in a couple of weeks and that means back-to-work for M.O.M. I’ll be aiding in the preschool again. I really enjoyed my time there last year and can’t wait to get to know a new group of preschoolers! Of course this means I’ve got to get used to the crazy schedule of crockpotting every dinner and having everyone (myself included) dressed and ready for the day before 7:30 am. Whew! Doing the Dance for sure!

So, I’m going to try to enjoy my last couple weeks of morning Boot Camp and the “Lazy Days of Summer” (anyone seen those?) and then jump into the whole routine like a pro double-dutcher.

Wish me luck!

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Don’t Judge a Book By it’s Cover…Or a Can of Soup By it’s Label

July 11, 2010

I was getting dinner into the crock pot and it called for a can of Cream of Mushroom soup. No problem! I went to the cupboard and pulled one out, opened it up and discovered Cream of Chicken inside. So I went back to the cupboard took out a can of Cream of Chicken, opened it up and discovered Cream of Chicken inside. I had to open 3 cans before I actually got Cream of Mushroom.

Hey Target-someone needs to check the product/label issue!

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Doing the Dance of the Children and Just Trying to get some Dinner Made~

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The Travel Adventures of Mommy of Many

May 24, 2010

I promise that my very next post will be full of pictures and descriptions of all the great things surrounding JJ’s graduation. It was very touching and a truly wonderful experience. However, right now there’s an adventure happening and I thought you’d want to hear about it.

After checking my itinerary with today’s scheduled rugby game, I realized that it would be best if I left for the airport, right after mass. This way, Clay would be able to see the rugby game, even though I would have to miss it. I’d be a couple hours early for my flight, but I was sure the time would pass quickly. JJ and Kateri both urged me to miss my flight and take my chances on getting another, but I felt that it would be better (though sad) to miss the game and get home late tonight and have tomorrow to recoup and be ready for work on Tuesday. So I said my good-byes to JJ and wished him well for his big, biking trip through parts of Spain and France (more on that in the graduation blog) and headed for the airport. I passed the time with my phone and my computer and soon realized that maybe TOO MUCH time had gone by. “Why haven’t I heard anything about boarding?” I glanced at the board about 20 minutes before my plane was scheduled to leave and saw that it was now delayed by and hour and a half. “What?! I could’ve stayed for the game!…What about my connecting flight? Flights?!” I checked my itinerary, uttered a little prayer and waited for the plane. Once it got there and we were off, I really started to get nervous about the next flight. But they offered us complimentary adult beverages for our trouble and I decided I wasn’t so nervous after-all.

FINALLY-Detroit! I had 20 minutes until my next plane was to take off! EEK!!!!! I was in concourse C and needed to get to concourse A. I made it in 14 minutes flat-dress, 3 inch heels, 2 bags and chaffed thighs aside. Seriously, I am NO runner but I haven’t moved that fast since one of my toddlers ran into the road with a car coming. I was beginning to think I should register for the Rock n Roll marathon…Ok, now I’m getting all Walter Mittyish on it (“ta pockata pockata pockata”…no better movie for visions of grandeur!). Let’s just say that I was surprised that I made it as far as I did, under those conditions, that quickly. I made it to the plane and hoped there wouldn’t be anymore running when I got to Minneapolis.

My hopes were dashed! We got in and taxied to the other side of the airport. We were late and there was, indeed, running! I got to my gate with 2 minutes to spare. NOPE! The plane had left. “Um…I needed that plane.” I was told that I was rescheduled for another flight…TOMORROW. Tomorrow?! “Hey Delta, it was your plane that was late, that ended up getting me here late. How do you propose you fix this?” So, after my workout, I was rewarded with a night at a local hotel…by myself…with my computer…and a TV…and no one I have to wake up for tomorrow morning…hmmm…maybe all that running wasn’t so bad after-all.

So, my oldest has been gracious enough to agree to keep everything running smoothly, for one more day (boy, do I owe her!) and she suggested I do something unusual, like…relax, sleep-in, enjoy some uninterrupted computer time. I think I’ll take her up on it!

So tomorrow I’ll share all the wonderful things about my second oldest graduating and moving onto his next phase of life. Tonight, I’m signing off and forgetting about schedules.

Doing the Dance of the Children via Delegation to My Oldest…but just for one more day~

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How Not to Spend the Evening

May 13, 2010

Yesterday evening I decided to take the 4 youngest kiddos to the rec center park by our house. They got their bikes, scooters,skate boards and helmets and were raring to go. I just needed to grab something out of the car before we went over. So, I opened the back, grabbed what I needed and shut door. The second I shut it I knew I was in trouble. I immediately tried to reopen it, but the “click” of the lock had already been heard. And with that, my keys were inside. Wait, not only the keys to the VW, but to the van as well. Great!

I decided to still walk the kids over to use the rest of the daylight to play and I could call for the car to be unlocked after I was home.

Playtime over, kids in bath and the phone call for the car made…

When the tow truck guy got to the house he assured me that not only does this happen all the time, but that it’s quick and easy to get it open. After-all, in all of his time of doing this, there’s only been 1 car that he hasn’t been able to open and that was because it had a special kind of lock.

40 minutes later he called for back up.

So now, I had 2 tow truck guys (one who looked like he had SURELY opened every car imaginable) working to get my car open. They tried 3 doors, with various tools and still my keys laid their taunting us. After an hour and much frustration the car finally gave in and let them in.

I’m just thankful that this happened in my driveway and not in a parking lot somewhere! And yes, another set of keys is in order.

Have a great day~

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The Saga of a Tooth Lost-Chapters 1-3

February 24, 2010

I’m just back from the unhappy experience of being at the dentist. Now, don’t get me wrong-I’m very happy to be ABLE to go to the dentist. I know that I need to be grateful for dental coverage. But the appointment and the reason behind it were NOT happy events.

So, let’s go back about 3 years and I’ll tell my tale…

Chapter 1

Pain! Lots of pain while chewing and drinking. Hot-ouch! Cold-ouch! Something must be wrong. I think I’ll ignore it. After-all, I DO have 2 sides to my mouth and only 1 of them is painful. Solution-simply use the other side…only! This chapter lasted about a year.

Chapter 2

Pain! Too much pain! It’s time to call the dentist. I’ve been avoiding one side of my mouth for about a year and there really must be something that should be done. Right? So, I made the dreaded phone call (mind you, I take the kids to the dentist regularly. But for myself, there always seems to be a good excuse.) and scheduled an appointment. At the appointment I was severely scolded for having waited so long and informed that I was in need of a root canal.

~DREAD~

The procedure was scheduled and carried out. It was a 2 appointment procedure. I was told that all went well. ~sigh of relief~

Now…let’s forget about my stupid teeth and get on with life! And THAT is JUST what I did.

Chapter 3

Pain!

Why oh why is there pain in the area of the tooth that had the root canal?! I MUST have something stuck. Better floss EXTRA well…again and again and again.  And that is just what I did.

Over the next 4 months I would have that thought from time to time. I’d floss, brush, rinse and then forget about it until it bugged me again. 2 weeks ago my tooth decided to talk to me and tell me it was no longer going to allow me to ignore it. I spoke gently to it saying, “be well little tooth. You have had a root canal and are fine. You may look different from my other teeth, but you’re going to be ok. I will give you a break and I’ll (once again) chew on the other side of my mouth. Will that make you happy?” Little tooth quieted down and enjoyed the rest. But 4 days ago it yelled at me saying, “STOP ignoring me and patronizing me! I don’t want rest. I want attention!” Then the gum around the tooth started to swell. After 1 day of swelling and pain I called the dentist (on a Sunday). I explained everything and was put on antibiotics until I could come in for an appointment.

Appointment time! So…the dentist greeted me and got right to work. “Oh. Oh my. Let’s get an x-ray of this. My my…Oh Mrs. Lang, this is not good. Let me show you”.

My tooth has broken…in half and must be removed! Apparently that root canal was to be followed by a crown. This was an appointment I never made and frankly, forgot about. Now, here I am 2 years later facing oral surgery and the removal of a tooth that can not be saved. I’m more than a little freaked out!

Chapter 4 to come soon. I must stay on the antibiotics until the surgery, so you can bet it will be in a week or so.

*grumbling* Have a great day~

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We Really Love Cinnamon Around Here!

February 10, 2010

After everyone had dinner, I decided to try to grab 5 minutes to myself and retreated to my room. I should’ve known better!

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"I didn't do it!"
“I didn’t do it!”

tell tale clothing
Lex’s cinnamon-covered clothing

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Bath time !

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Live and Learn…..

May 27, 2009

Last night I came into the kitchen to find bubbles pouring out of the dishwasher.  I knew right away that Maddi had put liquid dishsoap into the washer.

~Sigh~

This is one of those lessons that each of the kids seem to need to learn on their own.  So, I called her in, turned off the washer and handed her a bucket and a cup and told her to start baling out the bubbles and water.  To her credit, she did a great job of cleaning it all up and the dishes were extra clean by the time they got washer properly.

Had to laugh though because it was reminiscent of a movie scene.

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Maddi, keeping her sense of humor and blowing the bubbles

Good night~

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An Evening at Chuck E Cheese and some words from Daddy of Many

March 27, 2009

This evening we took the kids to an event, put on by the Family Readiness Group (FRG), that was at our local Chuck E. Cheese.  The kids had a great time and being a week night, the place was almost empty.  We used to take the older kids to Chuck E. Cheese every once in awhile, but as they’ve grown and the younger kiddos have come along, we’ve found ourselves going less and less.  This event had me thinking about those days when I would clip coupons and look for a great deal for a family day out.  All this thinking led me to remember a paper that Clay wrote on the very subject and with his permission I am going to reprint it here.  It was written about 4 years ago which means that Luke-Xavier, who enjoyed himself immensely tonight, hadn’t even joined the family yet!

First, here are a few pics of the kiddos having fun

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the boys with Chuck E.

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Luke-Xavier using ALL the blue sprinkles on his cookie

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Clay, caught enjoying his time at Chuck E. Cheese

Enjoy the story!

It was a lazy, late Sunday morning at the Lang household.  We were in and out of Church early.  My obligations for the day were fulfilled.  I was looking forward to a quiet afternoon of couch, chips and collisions.  The collision part meaning playoff football.  My wife, Jenni, was clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper.  My last peaceful moment of the day was broken with Jenni’s exclamation, “hey, a coupon.”

Still not quite knowing that my peaceful universe was about to be shredded, I replied with a well meaning, if slightly sarcastic, “Well, honey, that IS what you are doing, right?  Clipping coupons?”  “Well, yes, but this one gave me an idea,” my beautiful bride innocently replied.

Warning alarms blared in my head.  In my marital experience “I have an idea” ranks up there with “I’ve been thinking.”  I quickly switched over to survival mode, slowly, surreptitiously, sinking into the couch.  My attention switched to overdrive; suddenly everything Howie Long had to say was of global importance.  My survival depended on it.  Please Howie, take me away!  I had become a fox, securely hidden in the remotest depths of my den.

My bride, having a bit of marital experience as well, quickly turned into a foxhound and charged into my den, dragging me back out.  “No, this is really a good idea,” she bayed.  With a morbid fascination compelling me to ascertain the instrument of my destruction, I asked the question, “Ok, what is your idea?”

“Well, this coupon is a, “buy a large deluxe pizza, get another for free.”  Plus, you get 40 free tokens,” she started…. Tokens?  I thought, Pizza?  That could only mean…  “At Chuck-E-Cheese,” she finished.  “So I was thinking (first, an idea and now, thinking – I’m hosed), being you don’t have anything going on, why don’t you take the kids?”

OH SHT!  I panicked.  Well, I would love to take them honey.  Except I just accidentally jammed both my thumbs into my eyes and swirled them around in the sockets so actually I have to go to the hospital now.  Or maybe I could just lay here on the couch and recover; perhaps I could just listen to the game until the pain goes away.  No, that won’t work Clay.  Nope, the best defense is a great offense.  Remember who you are:  Lieutenant Commander Clay Lang.  Naval Aviator, Ranger School graduate, Reconnaissance Marine, member of the team who took down the soccer stadium in Mogadishu, bringer of stability and security to East Timor, the man who flew into the pitch black dark to rescue (wait, I already told you that one), and most importantly, the Lord and Master of my domain.  Time to bring the offense and exert some AUTHORITY around here.

“HEEELLL No!”  I exploded.  “If you think that I’m going to give up my day off, my chance at a couple of beers and playoff football to go to some commercialized pizza joint run by a big rat you need to think again.”  I told her.  And now for the finale – I’ll sure tell her, “Take the kids to Chuck-E-Cheese, you must be out of your dang mind!”

So I’m driving the kids to the Chuck-E-Cheese on Sports Arena Drive.  I have shoe horned all eight children into the Suburban – sometimes I think I am the only person in San Diego who has a legitimate requirement for a full-sized SUV.  There is some initial squabbling about who sits where, but I quickly rectify that by breaking out the seating chart.  I am still hopeful that there will be some ruckus that will enable me to at least threaten to turn the car around, but my luck has already been shattered by a coupon in the Sunday paper.  The eerie, uncannily quiet trip is one I would imagine being similar to the last stroll of a Death Row Inmate.

We arrive.  That commercialized, magical place where “a kid can be a kid.”  And a parent can lose his mind.  The kids have already run ahead and by the time I arrive they are being held at the end of a long entrance area, the “safety stop.”  Security checkpoint, I thought as the fraulein in the green and red polyester getup begins her interrogation.  “Are these all yours?” she asks.  “Yes, but there have been rumors.”  I innocently reply.  There is no mistaking them for my children as they all have one common trait, the it just got flattened with a frying pan, nose.  She looks up at me from under her ring-adorned eyebrows.  She is not amused.  What do I care?  I thought.  I’m not the one wearing a hat with a big rat on it.  Eager to strengthen our new bond, I ask her while she is affixing matching plastic security bracelets if they ever thought of just micro chipping everyone.  After receiving the “gee, I’ve never heard that one before” look, I decide it’s time to move to the register.

Ordering time.  A few pizzas, drinks for everyone, and let’s not forget, more tokens.  And the total is – wait I have a coupon – sixty-five dollars.  As I shell out the cash, I notice a birthday party winding down.  Much of the food has been left, the kids have been too busy running around, losing their minds.  Even half the cake is left.  I humorously ask if I can cancel my order and just take over where they left off.  I again get the look beneath the big rat hat.  She hasn’t heard that one before, either.

Now the fun begins.  As I try to herd the kids into a yet unbussed booth large enough for everyone I spy a recently vacated high chair belonging to a family preparing to depart.  I politely ask if they are done with it.  Again, the look.  At this point I am starting to wonder if I have an enormous phallus growing straight out of my forehead.  “When we’re done with it,” I’m chastised.  As I go to check on my children, the family departs and a mom quickly swoops in on the high chair.  I’m out of luck.  Well I’ll just hold Gabbi (age 1) I thought, as I turn the kids loose to play.

Mayhem.  Absolute mayhem.  As Kateri (my oldest) divvies up the loot (tokens), everyone takes off in a different direction.  I try to take a minute to appraise my surroundings.  Yelling, screaming, pushing, shoving.  Kids walking up the ramp of the game were you roll the balls into the holes.  They are dropping the ball into the 800-point slot so they can win more tickets.  Maddi (age 7), hollers down from the top of the play structure that someone threw up in there.  I put Gabbi, the contortionist, down so I can check if Maddi has crawled through someone’s yak.  Max (3), is walking from video game to video game, putting in a token and walking away.  Tristan (6), wants to ride on the little four-seater merry-go-round.  There is a girl on it who is screaming that it’s her ride and she doesn’t want anyone else on; her mother explains to Tristan and another boy that they can’t ride until her daughter is done.  Max has put half his tokens in the machines and given the other half away.  He wants more.  Gabbi is trying to sit next to a little girl on a mechanical two-seater car.  Her dad takes Gabbi by the arm to pull her off.  We lock eyes.  He lets her go.  Gabbi runs past the security checkpoint.  The fraulein is off flirting with a couple of young men in Raiders hats and baggy pants, sporting their ink – Boyz in the Chuck-E-Cheese.  I see a woman changing a diaper on the floor right next to the play structure.  I pick up Gabbi; she’s ripe.  I tell Kateri she’s in charge – good luck – as I head towards the restroom.  I already know there won’t be a “diaper deck” in there like there is in the Women’s restroom.  Arianna (9), is playing a driving game.  A little boy runs up and grabs the wheel.  His father, a heartbeat behind, collects him.  He tells the boy it is not his turn yet and looks at me apologetically.  I ask, “you get sent here with a coupon too?”  Finally, an understanding laugh.

Pizza is here. By the time I load the platoon into the booth, the pizza is scarcely warm.  Across from me I see a chubby girl.  The pizza she is eating is sending down rivulets of translucent orange fat down her cheek, culminating into a large droplet under her chin.  If this were Alaska, she would be forming an orange icicle.  Her parents tell her if she doesn’t eat her food, she can’t go play.  My appetite is gone.  What am I doing here?  Why here instead of the half-dozen, half-empty parks we passed on the way?  Wouldn’t even need a coupon.  Unfortunately, it wouldn’t have flown with the kids.  For the umpteenth time, I eye the beer and wine on tap at the register.  I wonder if they could just run a hose from the tap to my booth.

Back to the mayhem.  More running around.  More settling disputes.  More tears.  More tokens.  Finally, mercifully, the tokens run out.  Now comes the hard part.  What pieces of worthless, made in Taiwan, crap do we buy with all these tickets?  For one, a whistle (it will never make it home). Another, a kazoo (ditto).  Next, a clacker (refer to the whistle and kazoo).  A plastic slinky, a rubber snake (this one WILL make it home, in fact, it will find its way under Jenni’s pillow).  JJ (12), wants to save up his tickets for a cool pen.  I pay the difference now.  There is no way I want to leave with any incentive to return.  Now we’re off to the security checkpoint.  Fraulein peels herself off gangster number one to make sure all my children are still mine.  She looks upset that I interfered with her romance.  I feel bad – not!

The ride home is much more reassuring than the ride to.  I now have the kids that I am accustomed to.  Gabbi has already fallen asleep in her car seat.  Max is right behind.  It is hard to believe that I have just spent sixty-five bucks when I could have experienced just as much mayhem by simply taking them for a car ride.  What is it with that place?  I ask myself.  It’s simple.  The countless commercials embedded in every kid show.  The smiling faces, fabulous games and prizes, wonderful food, singing and dancing creatures.  I only wish they would show the other side:  The vomit, the grease, the junk.  Three out of eight toys have already been broken.  Now I will just need to intercept a couple more before they make it to the house.

The answer is ridiculously simple; parent guilt.  The continual feeling that not only are we obligated to do everything within our mental and physical (and let’s not forget fiscal) ability, but that if we do not, then we are setting them up for almost certain failure down the road.  When you couple that with the simple fact that parents will spend outrageous amounts of money on their children (my friend has a personal trainer for his ten-year-old son), you end up with an extremely effective marketing tool.  The formula is brilliant.  Three easy steps:  1. Inundate every show that children watch (even those that they are not supposed to, but researches show that they do) with advertising.  2. Sit back and let the pleadings of the children mix with the guilt of the parents.  3.  Count the money as it rolls in hand over fist.  And as a bonus, throw in a coupon and you’ll reel in some more.  I feel more than a bit sheepish as we drive past those same half-empty parks on the way home.  What does it matter that you saved twenty when you still spent sixty-five?

Mom gets the unrated version as the children stream into the house.  Someone puked in the play structure.  Max gave all his tokens away.  A girl wouldn’t let Tristan ride the merry-go-round.  I get the “what were you doing if you weren’t supervising the children?” look.  Since she is six months pregnant with our ninth, I am happy to give her a little peace and quiet at home.  If only it didn’t involve Chuck-E-Cheese.  I almost feel guilty about the one good thing that came out of that place – the rubber snake in my back pocket – almost.  She often comments that I am nothing but a big kid myself.  Who am I to prove her wrong?  This is my home, where a kid can be a kid.

Slowly, the caffeinated beverages wear off on the children and we are able to get them off to bed.  Only two complained of stomachaches, so for that we are fortunate.  Later that night as I watch news clips of the great game I missed on Sports Center, Jenni comments, “When I was putting Tristan to bed he told me that he wants to have his birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese.”

OH SHIT!  I panicked.  “What?  I don’t care if it is double coupon day for his birthday.  The last thing you are going to do is to get me to throw Tristan’s birthday party there.  I’d rather throw a pool party at a leper colony.  Throw Tristan’s birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese.  You must be out of your dang mind!”

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